Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who owns the rights to the formula one race in Bahrain, genuinely believes that the race is a force for good because it “unites many people from many different religious backgrounds, sects and ethnicities.” Well, it is certainly good for his bank account and for the regime’s prestige and while we have However, what he apparently doesn’t understand is that any real democratic change means that people from his particular religious background will not be allowed exclusive ownership rights to Bahrain.
Of course, just how hypocritical the West can be when it comes to real democratic change becomes all too obvious when we hear the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, saying; “Peaceful protest should be allowed to go ahead. But Bahrain is not Syria. There is a process of reform under way and this government backs that reform.” He hasn’t really understood very much either, has he? This is not about so-called reforms, which, according to most observers are not being implemented anyway. This is about support for a right little kleptocracy, which, if it were to ask the country in a referendum should it stay or should it go, would get at most hear a “good riddance to bad rubbish. No, Bahrain is not Syria where, if we were to have a similar referendum today to see if Bashir al-Assad should remain president, the result might just be quite different.
Finally, the Crown Price also argued that cancelling the race would “empower extremists“.Of course, with Salah Abbas Habib being beaten to death by the Bahraini police, we might also argue that the extremists are already empowered. Or if that doesn’t convince us, we might turn our attention to Bernie Ecclestone who has said today regarding any decision to cancel the race: “It’s nothing to do with us the national sporting authority in this country can ask the FIA if they want to call the race off.” Well, maybe Bernie doesn’t know it, but the national sporting authority in Bahrain, like practically everything else in the country, belongs to the Al Khalifa family.